Omari Spellman

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Warriors big man Kevon Looney set to return to lineup Monday night

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Golden State could use any good news they can get. Especially on the injury front.

That news is big man Kevon Looney is set to return to the lineup Monday night against Atlanta after missing 20 games with neuropathy, which effected his hamstrings.

Looney averaged just 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds a game for the Warriors last season, but that understates his importance to the team. He’s a mobile, active big man who understands the way the Warriors want to move the ball on offense and protect the rim on defense. It was evident in the Finals last June, when the Warriors’ offense just flowed better with him on the court compared to DeMarcus Cousins (Looney had to play through painful injuries to get on the court in that series).

Looney will split time with Willie Cauley-Stein and Omari Spellman along the frontline, and as he gets back into game shape expect Looney to get more and more of those minutes.

Luka Doncic had more points, rebounds and assists than Warriors in first quarter

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Luka Doncic keeps doing amazing things.

But he really outdid himself in opening quarter of the Mavericks win over the Warriors last night. The box score after the first quarter:

  • Points: Doncic 22, Warriors 16
  • Rebounds: Doncic 5, Warriors 4
  • Assists: Doncic 5, Warriors 4

Outscoring Golden State? OK. Getting more assists? OK. Doing both? That’s just incredible. Doncic was in total control offensively.

The 6-foot-7 wing out-rebounding the Warriors is especially astounding. Though I suppose if 6-foot Allen Iverson out-rebounded an entire team for a quarter, it’s not that crazy Doncic did, too.

To be fair, this achievement deserves a little context. Warriors who played in the first quarter:

Several Warriors leave bench during altercation/stoppage (video)

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Update: No Warriors will receive suspensions, per an NBA spokesperson.

 

The injury-ravaged Warriors got a satisfying win last night.

But will the game leave them even more short-handed?

Golden State guard Ky Bowman drove for a layup late in the fourth quarter. As he turned to run up court, Bowman collided with Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, who pushed away Bowman. Whiteside got hit with a technical foul.

The big development: Several Warriors – Jordan Poole, Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman and Klay Thompson – left the bench while Whiteside and Bowman squared up.

Any player who leaves the bench during an altercation receives a one-game suspension. The hard-and-fast rule is designed to prevent fights from escalating.

Golden State might be off the hook, because there was a stoppage – signaled by the referee on the opposite sideline – as the Whiteside-Bowman confrontation got going. The leaving-the-bench rule doesn’t apply during a timeout.

However, the stoppage was seemingly for a Portland timeout. The NBA’s official play-by-play includes no timeout at that time. If not a Trail Blazers timeout, why did officials stop play for a commercial break? That question might determine whether Warriors get suspended.

Suspensions could create quite the conundrum for Golden State. Teams must have eight players “able to participate” in each game. The Warriors had just nine healthy players last night – including Poole, Cauley-Stein and Spellman. Losing those three would drop Golden State below the limit.

Maybe Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell will return soon from their injuries. But Stephen Curry, Kevon Looney, Jacob Evans, Alen Smailagic and Thompson are out longer-term.

The Warriors are pressed against the hard cap. There’s no easy way to add outside reinforcements.

Three Things to Know: Warriors’ season was already broken, Curry’s hand clarifies new reality

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Warriors season was already broken before Stephen Curry broke his hand. Now the path forward is clear. Before this latest in a string of unfathomable injuries, Golden State’s season was already broken.

This is a team that already didn’t look near the class of the Clippers, then lost by 28 to a team that traded away Russell Westbrook and Paul George last summer, and had already given up a 30-1 run to upstart Phoenix. The plan of just holding on until Klay Thompson got back already looked doomed — the Warriors weren’t winning, and it’s unlikely Thompson is back anyway.

Then this happened.

A CT scan will determine if Stephen Curry will need surgery, or if he just goes in a cast. Either way, this likely sidelines Curry for at least a couple of months. Think after Christmas, closer to New Year’s Day (and surgery could mean a longer time away).

The basketball gods have unleashed their wrath on the Warriors.

Maybe, however, this is exactly what the Warriors need. It forces an adjustment they were not ready or willing to make.

Golden State is a lottery team now. They already were — based on early season results — but now there is no escaping it. By the time Curry returns, the Warriors will be in a hole they cannot dig out of. Not in a deep West.

Golden State is not going to tank — owner Joe Lacob already pushed back on that idea. Golden State has a new building to sell out. Thing is, they don’t have to try to lose, this is already a team of questionable construction that needed everything to go right to make a playoff push (did you really think Alec Burks, Omari Spellman, and Jordan Poole were going to step up?). Obviously, things have not gone right, going back to the Kevon Looney injury.

The pressure is off the Warriors now, the expectations are gone. Don’t sit Draymond Green if he’s healthy, but make sure he gets and stays healthy (he had an elbow issue suffered against the Suns). Make sure Looney gets right.

Turn D’Angelo Russell loose and let him run the show, watch him rack up numbers, then if teams start calling before the trade deadline next February, listen. See if there is a more natural fit next to Curry and Thompson.

If the losses pile up, so what? Get whatever the lottery ping-pong balls give you — this is not the same situation as the 1996-97 Spurs (the Tim Duncan draft), it’s a very different lottery and league, but you never know. Add a quality young player. Retool for next season when Curry, Thompson, Green, and Looney are healthy and there can be a young core around them that is a little more seasoned and fits better.

These Warriors were already broken. Watching them made that clear. Curry’s broken hand forces them into a new reality, but a path that ultimately should be better for the Warriors long term.

2) Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns throwdown on the court, get ejected, then carry fight to social media. This did not all start Wednesday night, Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns have been taking jabs at each other for years.

Wednesday night, those jabs turned into a fight.

Embiid’s team was winning comfortably, he was home in front of his people, and he lives for this kind of spotlight, so of course he egged the crowd on and then soaked it all in.

Both players were ejected — so they carried the fight over to social media.

And then it was on. Rudy Gobert summed it up for the rest of us:

It turned nasty. Entertaining, but nasty. KAT mocked Embiid for crying after a second-round playoff loss, Embiid noted Towns has never been to the second round, and it went from there. Because someone has to show some restraint, I’ll just say you can check the players out on social media if you want to follow along.

Multi-game suspensions are coming for both Embiid and Towns, and the social media sparring is not exactly going to invite leniency from the league. Maybe Towns gets one more game than Embiid — he appears to be first to escalate this from just a shoving match — but both are going to be out for games. Plural.

There are also questions about whether Ben Simmons will get suspended, or if anyone left the benches, or anything else that could lead to suspensions and fines.

Both teams have been off to a hot start, and both are going to feel the pain from this fight because they will be without their best players for a while.

3) James Harden drops 59 and Rockets still only win by one. This ended up being the third-highest scoring game in NBA history — a history that includes Doug Moe’s Nuggets teams. This was a throwback, defense optional, shootout for the ages.

James Harden’s 59th point came on a free throw with two seconds left that won the game for Houston over Washington, 159-158. Here’s the foul that led to those free throws — it’s vintage Harden in that he creates contact then sells it to make sure the call comes.

Bradley Beal had 46 points on 14-of-20 shooting, and Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura showed out with 23 points (he is off to an impressive start this season, beyond just this game).

Clint Capela had 21 for Houston, Russell Westbrook 17

Harden, however, proved to be too much.

The Rockets are going to be in a lot of games like this during the season — they can score with anyone, but they don’t have a defense to match.

It’s just preseason, but Anthony Davis puts up 22 points, 10 rebounds in first half

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It’s just preseason.

And it was against an undersized Warriors team that started Omari Spellman at center.

Still, Anthony Davis looked like his vintage self Saturday night in his first preseason game as a Laker, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the first half. Not to mention showing some chemistry with LeBron James.

LeBron James liked it.

Laker Twitter was pumped, too and tried to put the league on notice.

One should answer a Tweet with a gif.

It’s one preseason game. The Lakers are going to be good, no doubt. They’re contenders. But one preseason game is not a statement.